Like sheet-glass bathroom mirrors and granite countertops, espresso-colored kitchen cabinets have seemingly become a go-to move for builders and house flippers, giving them an outdated reputation in the design world. The brown-black hue can make a room feel heavy and gloomy, but there are some definite upsides to the shade if you get it right.
First off, you can easily achieve the espresso color with wood stain—meaning you don’t have to gut your existing cupboards; just reface them. It’s also a great way to introduce earthy tones to a modern space that’s clad in shiny appliances and other metals. When paired with modern lighting and surrounded by funky prints, they give off seriously cool vintage vibes. Here are six spaces that shed their old-fashioned rap.
Combat the Darkness With Breezy Details
What’s airier than white Corian counters and plaster walls? A Noguchi-style lantern, of course. Louise Alvine’s dark oak lower cabinets (a collaboration between Reform and Note Design Studio) could easily skew heavy, but the crisp white details lend a breezy feel.
Make Brass Your Metal of Choice
Stainless steel tends to date dark cabinets, but a hit of gold or brass adds an electrifying touch. The maze-like ceiling-mount light fixture in this kitchen from Alexander Design matches the hood, hardware, and barstool legs for a cohesive picture.
Create Architectural Moments
A little extra millwork goes a long way with making this hue feel modern. Annick Lestrohan’s extra-tall cabinets feature an eye-catching arch detailing on the doors that match the elongated lines of the range hood.
Let There Be Light
Espresso cabinets look their best in kitchens with tons of natural light—but you don’t need floor-to-ceiling sliders to achieve it. This sunny spot by the sink brings tons of rays into the space, and the open upper shelving makes for an even airier feeling.
Add Texture With Brick
It might seem counterintuitive to add more brown, but hear us out: Exposed brick, peeping out between open shelving, lends a tactile quality to the plain, flat shade.
Fool the Eye With Wallpaper
See more stories like this:
Forget Farmhouse—For Rustic Charm Try Antique Kitchen Cabinets
For Every Kitchen Cabinet Style, We Found the Perfect Countertop
High-Gloss Kitchen Cabinets May Be the Key to Brightening a Tiny Room